Sony Sports Off-Ear Headphones for Running – Crowdfunded

sony-off-ear-headphones-indiegogo-2021

Sony has invented a new off-ear and over-the-neck sports headphone working prototype that is designed specifically for running. The project at Indiegogo will run for 30 days up to the first week of December 2021, with limited order of 200 sets for Japan and the USA only, while the production model is expected to be ready for shipping in August 2022.

Instead of hiding the development in secrecy like most tech giants and allowing blogs and social media to run amok with leaks and rumours, Sony is opening up to show the world what is coming soon. Apple and Samsung should learn to do the same.

PROs and CONs[tie_index]PROs and CONs[/tie_index]

PROsCONs
  • No pressure on or inside the ears.
  • No body-conducted sound while the feet land on the floor.
  • No discomfort from vibration such as bone conduction sound.
  • Can hear own voice naturally during calls
  • Fit most hairstyles as long as there is a way to hang the ear loop.
  • Non-True Wireless, over-the-neck design hangs around the neck.
  • Very long battery life of 10 hours
  • The Earloop design should fit most ears regardless of ear or concha size.
  • A large sound driver of 16mm diameter could provide a stronger, deeper bass.
  • IPX4 is basic protection against water splash and sweat but it should only be wiped clean.
  • Priced affordably at $99 or $125 (Indiegogo, limited quantity)
  • IPX4 means it cannot be washed or submerged underwater. Most high-end sports earbuds have better protection up to IP68 including dust and waterproof submerging.
  • None-True Wireless – some users may not like any wire at all.
  • Only single connection, not multi-connect
  • Headphone protruding out of ear significantly
  • Some users may feel ear loops are uncomfortable.
  • 100% ambient sound all the time with no ANC or passive sealing against environmental sound.
  • Currently only sold in Japan and USA
  • Only 1-year warranty

Why We Would Buy[tie_index]Why We Would Buy[/tie_index]

Among the PROs, we find the following reasons are

Comfort and Secure

When it comes to running with headphones, what are the biggest problems during the run?

  • Benefits of off-ear design: This solves the problem where we keep hearing the sound transmitted by the feet stomping on the ground. When we run 10 kilometres, we will hear more than 15,000 times when the running shoes land.
  • Benefits of earloop design: This prevents headphones or earbuds keep falling off in the middle of the run.  And unlike sports earbuds that need ear wings, the earloop design is a one-size fit for all sizes of ears.
  • Benefits of over-the-neck design: Earbuds fell off and dropped into the drain. This actually happened to me once when I lost a True Wireless Earbud.

The above comprises 50% of why we would buy the Sony Off-Ear headphone.

Sony Is Finally “Cheap”[tie_index]Sony Is Finally “Cheap”[/tie_index]

Finally, we get to write a post that says “Sony is Finally Cheap”! A proper way is to say that we can finally buy a good Sony headphone at a reasonably affordable price that will not break our bank.

Sony’s best products are never cheap, and they always come at a premium price. That said, we believe the reason for the low price is because the project is currently in the prototype stage, and the order is for the First Article or initial small batch production before the massive roll-out.

Yes, you are most likely the guinea pigs to help test the first batch of a new product, which is why they are often cheaper than the subsequent retail price.

This is the opposite of a custom-made product where smaller quantities of say 100 pieces would normally cost higher than a bulk order of say 200,000 pieces.

The price is 40% of the reason to buy the Sony Off-Ear headphone.

Very long battery life of 10 hours[tie_index]Very long battery life of 10 hours[/tie_index]

The long battery life is slightly higher than most True Wireless Earbuds that is in the range of 7 to 9 hours, but it is not exceedingly high. As such, this is only 10% of our reason for buying.

In fact, we expect the earloop design to have a larger battery capacity which could support at least 16 or 24 hours of battery life.

Why We Won’t Buy[tie_index]Why We Won’t Buy[/tie_index]

Among the 4 issues listed under CONs, there are 2 issues that influence our reasons for not buying:

IPX4 is not enough[tie_index]IPX4 is not enough[/tie_index]

We liked everything in the PROs and the main reason for not buying the Sony Off-ear headphone is the IPX4 rating. Based on actual experience, we have damaged “sports” headphones with only IPX4 because it was washed under slow running tap water.

It does not make any sense for sports or running earbuds to have IP Rating less than IPX6 or IPX7. Those who regularly run may know that it would be most convenient to wash the headphones or earphones under tap water. This means at least an IPX5 is necessary and if we add dust protection IP5X, then the minimum specification for sports earbuds should be IP55

IP55Dust protected. Dust must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment.Protected from low-pressure water jets from any direction.

Most good sports earbuds currently have at least IP57 up to IP68. This is 80% of our reason for not buying.

Lack of ambient noise cancellation or sealing[tie_index]Lack of ambient noise cancellation or sealing[/tie_index]

The Off-Ear design has brought several “comfortable” benefits in the name of sports. It will appeal to outdoor or urban runners because it is safer to be aware of ambient sounds such as cars, bicycles or others on the roads.

However, those users who prefer to have ambient active noise cancellation when a call comes in would not like the open ear design. If the volume is too loud, there will be privacy issues because someone next to you in a quiet room may be able to hear what the other party is saying due to the “open” design.

This is not perfect – you get something with an off-ear design but you will also lose the benefits of in-ear design. As such, we feel that this is a trade-off that we have to decide individually and hence it is only 20% of our reasons for not buying.

Ear Loop and Non-True Wireless Design[tie_index]Ear Loop and Non-True Wireless Design[/tie_index]

We are not affected by the issues with earloop comfort or non-True Wireless design, even though we feel that they may be CONs for some users. These issues are listed based on user feedback in other forums and user reviews.

Some users may not like the earphones that protrude or stick out of the ear significantly. This is why the most recent design of True Wireless Earbuds are focusing on low profile earbuds that hide inside the ear. This is another trade-off that is unavoidable for Off-Ear headphones because the design already says it all – it is Off-Ear so it is expected to stick out of the ear.

Preliminary Design Specifications[tie_index]Preliminary Design Specifications[/tie_index]

As the following is based on the working prototype, the following are subjected to changes.

Form FactorWireless Off-Ear Headphone with Earloop.
Not true wireless as there is a wire connecting both earbuds
Sound Driver16mm diameter
Weight34 grams
Battery life10 hours
Fast charging10mins charging for 60mins battery life

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